My last blog entry was about how Nikon’s new D4 camera appears to have incredible metadata support, something that really is exciting to me especially since I am in the DAM (Digital Asset Management) business. Gadget-freak that I am, the D4 is not the appropriate camera for me. In a previous life (as an Associated Press photographer), yes, but not now.
No sooner does Nikon introduce the D4, they introduce another camera, the D800, at a fraction of the cost.
I have enjoyed reading about this new 36-megapixel behemoth (camera is smaller than the D4, but the imaging chip is more than twice the pixel count). Every website that writes about photography has a review up about the camera. Cool, lots of stuff to read. But there are only a few original sources of information. Most of the other sites are writing about a camera the authors have never seen, sometimes citing the original sources, other times not. Some authors, always careful to credit their own work on their own site, do not credit the work of the photographers that created the samples they use to illustrate the new camera’s capabilities. But I digress.
In all my reading and research, it appears (I say appears, because a manual is not yet available) that the D800 may lack the ability to add important IPTC metadata to pictures in the camera. In the specifications for the two cameras that I have viewed on Nikon’s website, the D4 includes IPTC display as one of the playback functions. The D800 does not have a reference to IPTC information included in its specification. I hope I am wrong. The potential change in workflow the D800 creates will make metadata even more important.
The D800 (and its variant without the anti-aliasing filter, the D800e) has the potential to create an unanticipated workflow nightmare for photographers, while at the same time generating a run on computer memory, storage and capture devices like cards and card readers. Thirty-six megapixels, that is a lot. That is three times the information captured by the Nikon D3s, and twice the number of pixels captured by the new Canon flagship, the EOS 1 DX. It does not matter whether your workflow is raw, TIFF or Jpeg, users can expect file sizes that may be three times as large as previously worked with. Pipelines to a user’s computer also become more important. USB and Firewire 400 may have seemed fine working with images from older cameras. Now, they will seem slow. Eight gigabytes of memory may have seemed sufficient. On my local laptop with 8 gb of memory installed, the computer uses about five of that to manage applications I typically have open. This is before I open an image that will be about 200 mb in Photoshop (16-bit acquires from raw images).
Talk about unintended consequences. A camera at thirty-six megapixels has the potential to cause photographers to not only reexamine their post-shooting production but also their actual shooting habits as well. Thirty-six megapixels has the potential of showing flaws in shooting styles, and deficiencies in lenses. The older zoom lens that was just fine on a twelve-megapixel camera may show its inability to resolve as well as the camera’s imaging chip. You say your picture is soft? And you are shooting no different than before. Welcome to the magnifying glass of thirty-six megapixels!
Yes, it is fun to read about whether the images from this camera will be better than camera technology from just last year or whether 36 megapixels is even necessary. For everyone that is thrilled with the idea of this camera, there is someone that is disappointed. I expect the marketplace will decide if thirty-six megapixels is necessary. (The camera already appears to be sold out for preorders.)
I hope this camera does have the ability to store IPTC information. It is an important part of my workflow so that content can be used in a digital asset management solution. I am already re-examining other parts of my workflow and local infrastructure. (Yep, my D800e is on order.) For the time being, I think I am OK.
- Software to add IPTC information on import (this is REALLY IMPORTANT)—check
- Software to manage content (DAM) and search IPTC metadata—check
- RAM (all my laptop can handle)—check (you can never be too rich or have too much RAM)
- Plenty of fast compact flash cards—check
- Firewire 800 reader—check
- Local storage with lots of room to easily expand (Drobo)—check.
Ok, time to go make some pictures!